Republicans clash over refugees as 2016 looms

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ATLANTA — Some Republicans are pushing back against aggressive opposition in their party to Syrian refugees resettling in the U.S., in fresh evidence of a rift within the GOP that threatens to complicate the party’s outreach to minorities heading into the 2016 presidential contest.

These Republicans have joined Democrats who liken the refugee backlash to the U.S. government turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and placing Japanese in internment camps during World War II. While conservatives cite security concerns following the Paris attacks that may have involved Syrian refugees, others in the party fear the GOP’s position in Congress and state capitals across the country reeks of xenophobia.

“A refugee is someone who has a credible fear that they’re going to be killed,” said Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who served in the George W. Bush administration and now leads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “To close the door reminds me of FDR not letting Jews land in the U.S. during the years of Nazi Germany. Where are they going to go?”

Email newsletter signup